April 27, 2021
As the ZikaPLAN project ends, a new series of films highlight the stories behind this international consortium, from the people and communities affected by Zika, to the pioneering scientific studies that underpinned our work, through to the ongoing impacts of some of our most renowned innovations.
One of the driving ambitions behind the ZikaPLAN project was to unite the world’s finest researchers from multiple disciplines to collectively tackle what at the time, was an unprecedented surge in a relatively rare infectious disease.
In doing so, our intention was to amass key findings while developing new tools, techniques and collaborations that would not only meet an immediate need, but create a legacy that would continue to bear fruit.
The story behind how this all came to be, from the people and communities affected by Zika, to the pioneering scientific studies that underpinned our work, through to the ongoing impacts of some of our most renowned innovations, has now been captured in a new series of films.
Thanks to the contributions of our transnational team including everyone from the project coordinators who expertly handled the logistics, to the scientists who carried out essential fieldwork, you can discover for yourself how the ZikaPLAN project unfolded.
At around seven minutes each, the films offer a poignant and pithy insight into how and why Zika exploded in the Americas and how we were able to intervene; the inspiration and logistics that went into innovating tools including the Global Birth Defects App, the Global Vector Hub, and the biobank engineered by the Latin American Network for Congenital Malformation Surveillance; and how neurologists worked with experts and affected communities in Latin America to unravel the connection between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Zika.
Each of the four films offer a complete narrative in and of themselves. Viewed together, we hope they provide an illuminating overview of the studies conducted by dozens of team across multiple continents, the innovative use of new technologies and how the lessons learned from investigating Zika have gone on to inform the world’s response to other pandemics, including COVID-19.
As Dr Elizabeth Brickley notes in our first film, ‘Scientist united in the fight against Zika’: “While the Zika virus pandemic has ended, the devastating health and social impacts on children with Congenital Zika Syndrome and their families continue. We hope to continue to work together through our meaningful international partnerships to identify the needs of affected children, so that we can better advocate for effective support services for the children with Congenital Zika Syndrome and their families.”
We are indebted to each and every person who helped make ZikaPLAN what it was. Reflecting on the personal impact of the project, Dr Sonja Leonhard summed it up perfectly: “The whole experience was enormously enriching, at a cultural and scientific level. One thing that will stay with me is the immense hospitality of Brazilians and how their approach helped to deepen the bonds between us scientists united by this overarching goal to improve people’s lives.”
All films are available either on the ZikaPLAN website or YouTube: